Up here in the Champlain Valley we are getting ready for our summer VMUG meeting. While planning the other day someone asked me “What is a V. M. U. G.?” To which I responded “VMUG (pronounced “v-MUG) is…” and launched into a standard elevator, evangelist pitch. Almost immediately I regretted the canned response and started reflecting on what VMUG means to me. It really didn’t take long to reach a resolution to the question. What VMUG means to me can be summed up in a single word: Opportunity.
As I’m someone who wears everything on his sleeve, I’d like to let you know that I’ve been a VMUG leader for almost a year and have been a member and proponent of it since long before that. However long before I was a leader, VMUG offered opportunities to me that may not otherwise be available in Northern New England.
To start with, one of my first VMUG events was the opportunity to attend the UserCon in Boston. If you’ve never been to a UserCon, I suggest checking one out at your earliest opportunity. You have access to labs, technical presentations, fantastic keynotes, access to vendors and your peers! All for the low low price of Free! It’s essentially a miniature version of the big conferences held in Las Vegas, except they are regional and free.
UserCons are awesome but to me the true lifeblood of VMUG is the local communities. As I mentioned previously, I help run the Champlain Valley VMUG community. We hold local meetings 3-4 times a year where you can come to hear from your peers, vendors and industry leaders talk about what is happening in their industries, applications or local businesses. It’s a chance to network with folks in your area and learn about cutting edge tech. Your local meetings are also free, so there really just isn’t a good excuse for missing out.
Speaking of networking, did you know that the VMUG advantage membership now includes NSX! On top of all the evaluation software you can get a discounted ticket to VMworld. Actually it’s the only discount that you can stack with the other discounts. If you’re going to VMworld, or planning on taking a VMware class/exam you should just buy an advantage pass, it literally pays for itself. Seriously, I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but let’s suppose you’re going to take the vSphere: Install Configure and Manage course, that’s around $4000. A VMUG advantage membership gets you 20% off right out of the gate. It’s a pretty good ROI. I’m just saying…
Earlier I mentioned networking, but in my mind this is one of the greatest opportunities that VMUG can afford. Thanks to my involvement with VMUG I’ve learned a ton, gained a ton of awareness of the IT ecosystem, met CEO’s and frankly been able to advance my career. Getting up on stage and presenting about PowerCLI, a topic I’m very passionate about, has helped me get over my fear of public speaking in addition to paying it forward.
Someone recently came up to me and said (to paraphrase) “thanks for your session on PowerShell. I really took it to heart and have been using it in my day to day since.” In all honesty I really couldn’t ask for more than that. By being involved with VMUG I’ve been able to learn, grow my skills, engage with industry leaders and help others. It may sound like a sales pitch, but really this $hit just sells itself.
As always, I’m happy to hear any feedback you may have. Until then, I hope to see you getting involved June 15, at the Champlain Valley VMUG summer meeting!
I have received a lot of positive comments about my updates from the conference, so thank you. I’m a big believer in using critical feedback as a means to improve, if anyone out there has any other feedback for me.
I wanted to jot down a last few thoughts from the week before my brain cells totally recuperate. I’m not sure what I expected going into this first combined Dell EMC world, but I do know that I had a blast and learned a ton.
Just for posterity’s sake, here are my first few updates from the conference
It was obvious from the start that with Dell purchasing the EMC federation they were going to go after hardware and namely the converged and hyper-converged markets. Beyond that I don’t think I really understood where this giant beast was going. After this past week, a few themes stuck out to me. The first is an affirmation that as the traditional hardware market slows down, Dell Technologies are indeed going to go even harder after the various converged plays. You could see a physical manifestation of this on the floor of the solutions expo. “Traditional” servers were tucked in the back, whereas the products from the converged platform division that Captain Canada leads were large and in charge of the middle of the expo floor. Prior to the acquisition VCE already owned the majority of the hyper/converged space. I don’t see how you can slow DellEMC down now that they have the servers to integrate as well.
If 2015 was the year of flash, and 2016 was the year of DevOps, then I think I’d like to go on the record saying that 2017 is the year of Security. I work for a financial firm, so I may have a bias towards this topic, but I felt like there was a much stronger message around security at this event. It makes sense. If Dell wants to own the entire datacenter, which they obviously do, you have to be able to secure the datacenter. With RSA, SecureWorks and VMware’s NSX already in the portfolio, it’s a pretty good start. When you then look to see how security is getting integrated into each of the disparate product lines all the way down to the new 14G servers, it looks to me like Michael Dell and team know that the products need to not just perform but need to be secure in order to win.
The Internet of things space (IoT) as well as AR/VR seemed to have a sizable presence at the conference. People have been trying to emphasize cool products years, but it seems like this might be the year where mainstream adoption starts. I can’t remember the precise figure now off the top of my head but I believe in one of the general sessions they were projecting let’s call it the “ancillary” space or non-traditional servers to be a $45 billion industry by the year 2020. Just for reference sake the market cap of Dell when it was taken private again was under $25 billion. I don’t necessarily see how this plays into long-term strategy but it was everywhere in the sessions and on the expo floor and it’s very obviously on the mind of Dell executives.
The Golden Geese
During the opening day’s general session, Michael Dell said to paraphrase “A few years ago we bought Alienware. They were the best at what they were doing, and we let them continue to do it.” The not so subtle message to the community is, we bought these companies not to pillage but to leverage their success and make each other stronger. I was fortunate enough to ask Michael himself later that evening if that indeed was his message, especially as it pertains to VMware. I’m again paraphrasing but his message was. “We didn’t buy these companies to pillage them. We are obviously looking for opportunities to itegrate across Dell Technologies, but these companies are leaders in their respective industries and we’re not going to decimate them.” The answer was much longer (and nuanced) but after listening to Mr. Dell and talking to a number of folks who are way more embedded than I, my fears have finally been (mostly) assuaged. Actually after attending a number of sessions across server/compute/storage/security/networking/operations I truly believe Dell Technologies has an opportunity to build something that is bigger than the sum of their parts.
As an engineer I’ve always felt that my job at conferences is to go breakout sessions wall-to-wall and learn as much technological stuff as I possibly can. I decided to alter the plan a slight bit for this one. As many have said before me, a large part of attending conferences are the networking opportunities. If you’re inclined and motivated there are countless opportunities to get out and network with folks. Here are a couple of the events I was fortunate enough to take a part in.
It was an exciting, if not controversial week, in the Dell EMC communities. On Monday I attended the Converged (formerly VCE) User Group meeting. This is where I was fortunate enough to ask Mr. Michael Dell the aforementioned question about the various brands under the new Dell Technologies umbrella. Now I’m a pretty shy guy, but I have never been to a User Group meeting where I haven’t met someone interesting AND learned something AND had a bunch of fun. If you haven’t yet joined up with one of the Dell Technologies communities then you are definitely missing out.
In my role as a systems engineer I have been fortunate enough to work with multiple VCE products across multiple companies. So I was honored to be afforded a chance to attend a technical advisory board meeting for the converged platforms. It was an eye-opening experience to see how the roadmaps & strategies come together and to offer some frank feedback to the people who actually influence these products. Unfortunately I can’t share details from the meeting but needless to say it was a very cool experience that I hope to repeat again.
Oh heavenly beanbag. How I love thee. Let me count the ways. 1, zzzzz #DellEMCWorld
Also on Tuesday was the Dell Communities event. As a VMUG leader I was very excited to attend this meeting in order to network with some peers who I’ve only emailed with. It’s always nice when you get to meet someone whom you only know by their email and make a personal connection. After all, that’s really a big part of what VMUG is about. If you’re lucky these events are also very cool opportunities to get facetime with people that you wouldn’t normally be able to sit down with.
And it is Vegas after all, so I was happy to wrap the day by enjoying some of the fine dining and activities that you can only find in sin city. All the while networking with one of our key partners, and meeting some cool people.
The Event itself
This is only my second trip to Dell EMC world, so the sample size is small, but each time I’ve been to the event I’ve been very impressed. From the general sessions, to the breakouts, the registration process, all the way down to how lunch is served so efficiently, it seems to be a really really well run event. I just wish that they would stop using so many disposable water bottles.
One of the fears i have attending a vendor run conference is how deep the marketing and sales pitches will run. I haven’t found Dell EMC world to be any worse than any other presentations that I’ve sat through. Some are worse, some are better in terms of the amount of “pitchiness“. On a whole I found the amount of sales at this event to be quite reasonable given all of the networking and educational opportunities that are provided.
With any luck I’ll be able to see how Dell EMC world has evolved in 2018, but until then I guess I’ll just have to wait to see you all in Vegas this August for VMworld.
focus seems like it’s going to be on the end user space. How are we going to enable (and secure) our workforce in 2017. It looks like we are going to have some solid insights into where Dell is looking to go in the personal device space.
New product announcement: wireless laptop charging! I’ll take two. Coming June 1st
95% of all breaches start at the endpoint. OOF.
Nike and Dell working together on some really amazing tech. Dell Canvas allows user to have a much more tactile experience when designing. It’s going to be a very niche product, but really really cool.
Dell is projecting AR/VR to be a $45B business by 2025. It’s pretty obvious they’re going to go after this space. AR/VR is also a big focus on the solution floor. Daqri & Dell are partnering to come up with some interesting solutions in this space and hopefully using their scale to drive cost downward.
IoT and grocery. I know some people who might be interested in this part of the presentation. Grocery and supermarkets have a lot of capabilities with how they store products, but they typically just set it and forget it with their thermostats in the freezer & cold cases. Using IoT to track where your products are allows you to fine-tune thermostat controllers and realize real energy & waste savings. Grocery is just one use case, but the idea translates to other verticals. Dell has created a new Open initiative called EdgeXFoundry to start setting standards for the various IoT functions that happen at the edge.
VMware – Realize What’s Possible
My favorite part of the general session. It’s fanboy time. Here comes Pat Gelsinger.
Where are we headed… Technology is magic, or has the ability to create magic. We’ve seen this from mainframes->client/server->cloud and IoT and the edge are the next frontier, but it’s happening now.
LAUNCH ALERT: VMware Pulse IoT Center. Centralize management/security/operation of the network of IoT. Built on AirWatch/vRops/NSX.
Just like yesterday it appears that VMware has finally realized that their public cloud offerings … let’s just say they haven’t gone well. They are skipping to next gen of managing the devices at the edge and looking forward to Mobile Cloud.
Workspace one. make it simple for the consumer, but secure the enterprise. Seems like an overlap in the portfolio. How does ThinApp & AppVolumes play into this? Regardless VMware is taking a stronger focus on EUC this year.
Announcement time: VMware VDI Complete. Client devices from Dell, converged infrastructure, and vsphere. It’s VDI in a box. Super Sweet! Oh and here comes Sakac running on stage hooting. Awesome.
Cross cloud architecture. Finally we are getting somewhere. Don’t do the cloud, enable it! At last we get to see VMware Cloud on AWS! vRA is up next. Please just start giving vRA away! To go faster and compete with the public cloud, we need the tools. It’s a loss leader!
Announcement: VMware and Pivotal are announcing a collaboration to come up with a developer ready app platform with a focus on cloud native/serverless/micro-services/function.
Pivotal Cloud Foundry works with the most powerful cloud providers enabling Dev and IT to get to market faster, delivering value and time back to the business. It’s taken a couple of years to get there, but it seems like VMware is finally got a good handle on their micro-services & cloud portfolio. Today’s presentations are really exciting to see where we’re going.
The last time I was at a major industry conference I had no need to attend any VDI sessions, but the only constant is change and that holds true in IT as well. Fast forward a few months and Horizon falls under my purview.
@andrewduce There’s a cake. A carrot cake. Seriously. Why? ok…
Recipes, ingredients (esp. best of breed, I think I can see where this is going), and time. The analogy is do you build your own cake, you have most of the ingredients or do you buy it? Build or Buy, it’s a subject that I focus on in one of my latest presentation proposals. It’s a subject that affects many of us, especially in the SMB space. Build is cheaper and more configurable, but it comes at a cost namely time and (lack of) experience. Buy is typically validated and faster to deploy, but you pay a premium for that. In the end it’s really a question of what you and your organization value.
If you want to buy it’s the Dell Technology view that you can stack vRO, VMware horizon and vSphere on top of vxRail to go for that integrated buy approach.
The kind folks at VMware offer a reference architecture on how to get onto Horizon 7. The also go through the effort to give you a bench-marking whitepaper to show you that the solution works. And they also give you a set of VDI focused VxRail choices. How kind!
When you look at VDI, you need to take apart the various layers. What does that actually mean? In your golden image, don’t store software, separate out your application layer with a layering technology. Don’t add user settings to your app layer, use a technology to separate out the profile elements. By doing this if you go with best in breed, VDI becomes much more scalable than it was in earlier iterations. Combine this with VMware technologies like Instant Clones and App Volumes and suddenly you can significantly reduce your time to deliver value to your users.
The timing of this session is really perfect. I went through some demo’s in the past few weeks on Horizon, App Volumes and Smart policies. Smart policies is the one piece that I couldn’t get my head wrapped around until now. It seems like it’s a rule based approach to how you can dynamically control your end users environment, allowing them to seamlessly move from area to area and get updated settings based on location. Cool!
I’m impressed. A VMware guy said that Citrix is good. It’s in the context of “we can support anything”, but I like the honesty.
Just when I thought the session was over, a new offering being announced for a Dell EMC VDI complete solution. On prem as low as $8/user/month. Wow.
Breakout session – Tackle the Security challenge of Endpoints without End
The laptop is dying, had to revert to bullet points on the phone for this one
~10% of attendees have been hit by ransoms ware
No silver bullet, must look at things in depth, to reduce risk.
Ransomwares rise in prevalence is because it’s easier for bad guys to monetize.
Protect by anti malware-> signature based doesn’t go far enough any more. Machine based learning.
Backup is your special team. If something gets in, it’s your only real answer. They must be: PiT. Off site. Airgapped. Immutable.
Airwatch can protect remote employees. Play offense by being proactive, shrink the attack surface.
User most vulnerable. If compromised, have to limit access at endpoint.
Have to know what normal looks like. What indicators of compromise exist on a machine. Analogy of house and security cameras. You have to know when someone gets in.
New approach to move beyond signature based. Heuristic. Machine learning. Etc. look at behavior and/or what’s under the covers (i.e. The code) attributes of the code.
Not a lot of new content, but it’s nice to hear that the Dell EMC Technologies are thinking about this and how they can all work together.
Breakout session – DevOps & Itil
Last session of the day before I head off to a networking event. I saved a little bit of laptop juice especially for this session. You don’t have to spend long on this blog to understand that I love this topic. See my posts on The Phoenix Project, Get Out of IT, The Order of the Phoenix – The Prequel, etc to see my love. Perhaps I need to get a new infatuation point.
Finally! Someone agrees with me, Stanley Kubrik does make for engaging metaphors! No, well yes, but no I mean that Itil and DevOps can (and should) co-exist. I love that @md_schneider & @bverkley start this off with definitions. One of the biggest points of confusion around these topics is a lack of a common language. I won’t hash out the details again, just visit previous links for more details.
Interesting that the talk starts on with a chat about Agile, Kanban and their practices have to be reflected in their principles and practices and vice-versa. DevOps is the principle and ITIL is the practice. I love it.
The principles of DevOps are Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement and sharing. DevOps is not a tool, it’s a mindset and these values should be reflected in your practices (ITIL).
Culture is hard. Referenced heavily, gotta add this one to the reading list. Problems with DevOps are often due to conflicts within your organization and their culture. If more managers understood this, you’d see a lot more silo’s getting broken down.
“Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.” – Conway’s Law. Whoa.
Automation is to DevOps as telescopes are to astronomy. It’s a tool. It’s not the thing. You need to attack the hard stuff, but don’t start there. Start with creating, it’s lower risk. Make it an iterative process. Create->Verify->Package->Release->Configure->Monitor and then you’ve covered the whole DevOps tool chain.
Vegas Baby, Vegas. Where 12,000 geeks all converge on Vegas to hear from thought leaders and learn about happenings in the IT. This year should be particularly interesting as it’s our first opportunity to attend the combined DellEMC World. Now that the industry leading compute, storage and virtualization providers are all under one umbrella I can’t wait to see what sort of slant the conference takes. Going into things if I had to wager a guess I’d say we’re going to hear an awful lot about converged/integrated platforms. I’m also hoping to hear how the developers for the federation have been hard at work integrating their disparate offerings into improved (and cheaper) around visibility, automation and orchestration. VMware has never had a strong cloud play, so if the new DellEMC federation is going to compete in the era of cloud they must enable us to do on-prem faster, cheaper and with much greater visibility.
There is so much going on at these industry conferences I’m going to try something different this go-around. I’m going to do my best to semi-live blog my experience, the sessions I attend and the knowledge gained. Hopefully this enhances my retention of the event, and maybe brings some value to those who couldn’t make it.
One of the really great and underutilized things about conferences are the testing opportunities. I live in a rural state, so finding a test center can sometimes be a challenge. Historically at EMC world your first attempt at any test is free, and thankfully they’ve carried that policy forward to the new combined conference. Typically, the last day of the conference books up as people try to carry the knowledge gained from the week into their test attempt. Believe it or not Vegas can get a little crazy, even for a bunch of computer geeks, so I tend to front-load my exams. It can be a bit of a bummer if you should fail, but either way you leave yourself open to be able to experience the rest of the event without studying hanging over your head.
Two weeks ago, I decided to embark on a crash course, and attempt both the EMCISA & EMCCIS exams. Luckily things worked out for me, and I’m now an EMC Proven Professional x2. Just a quick note on these two exams. The storage exam is as you’d expect geared towards Engineers, but surprisingly isn’t completely jam packed with EMC propaganda. The cloud exam is a really solid overview of Enterprise IT today. Some of the product based content is a little dated, but I was surprised at the breadth of the overview provided by this course.
Jeremy Burton is the MC again, with a very loud microphone. Biggest (and first) Dell EMC World Ever, 13,500 attendees.
90% of the top IaaS companies, 70% of the top SaaS, 100% of Fortune’s most admired companies run on Dell Technologies. (I still prefer the name federation)
“magic can’t make digital transformation happen, but we can”
#1 in everything, upper right quadrant. It sounds an awful lot like preaching to the choir so far.
Customer testimonial from 20 year Dell customer, Boeing. Newest partnership is with Pivotal (hopefully we hear more about this). The message thus far is we are going after the biggest and best, and if they use it you should too.
Here we go, name drop city.
Use Pivotal to address IoT. Transform your company into a software company, including services of course.
“Cloud is not a place, but rather a way of doing Information Technology”
VMware has a track record of poor public cloud offerings. It seems that Dell is leapfrogging IaaS to go straight to cloud native/3rd platform.
“Our customers tell us that public cloud is often 2 times as expensive as on-prem”
It’s obvious that Dell still has a big stake in On-prem, but even they are recognizing that in this day and age IT needs to transform
“We love VMware” – Yes we do Michael!
It’s going to be a multi-cloud world, and it’s obvious that other than being an IaaS provider, Dell is putting many irons in the Cloud fire. Hopefully as the week goes along we’ll hear more about how they plan to do all of these various things well, without spreading the company too thin.
“It’s about what you do with the cloud.” Hell yes!
We need better wi-fi in here! More of the Internets!
Client space is still going to be a focus. AirWatch is evolving to make for secure connectivity out of the box. Michael made a point to mention that PC technology will remain core to the Dell business.
Global roll-out announcement for Desktop as a Service. Jeff Clarke to share more tomorrow.
We bought Alienware, and we left them alone. (ie. we aren’t going to mess too much with our golden geese)
Security, infrastructure, compute, virtualization, cloud, EUC… I can’t stop wondering how Dell will be able to execute well on all of these areas, without losing focus.
Karen (Chief Customer Officer) talking about cancer research partnerships. Plastic removal from the ocean, and recycling the plastic removed into server packaging (COOL!). Combine this with Michael’s foundation and it’s obvious that social good is still going to be a focus.
David Blaine hits the stage. You gotta be here. Sorry.
This whole blog thing is still new to me, but I’ve tried to have a message or at least a coherent thought as I’ve gone about it. That ends now! I’ve had a question that I’ve been trying to sort out for a while and I thought that there’s a chance I may come to some sort of a resolution by writing this out…
Even though I changed jobs not that long ago, I still get emails from the job search sites. Most of them just get trashed as I’m quite happy in my new role, but sometimes I skim through them for giggles. One listing caught my eye recently for a “full stack developer”. Around the same time I came across a really well thought out article on the myth of the full stack developer. The fundamental premise of the article was that what the world really needs now is more full stack integrators. Unfortunately I can’t find the specific article, but a quick google for “death of full stack engineers” will result in a number of similar items.
I’ve also been catching up on podcasts during my commute and while the Datanauts, whose key catch phrase seems to be “silo-busting”, were wrapping up a recent episode they mentioned in passing the concept of a full stack engineer. Knowing that one of the hosts is a network engineer and the other a virtualization engineer, I can only assume that by engineer they meant someone from the infrastructure realm. And it’s this comment which stuck me the most and is a big part of my questioning today.
To give a little context, I started my professional career in IT almost exactly 17 years ago. I also am writing this post from my basement, listening to Phish, while wearing a Chewbacca snuggie. You may ask yourself what the hell that has to do with anything, and honestly nothing other than trying to establish my geek creds. TMI? Maybe? But we continue onward. The real point is that I think I’ve seen a fair representation of IT shops from small to large, local to global. One consistent thing I’ve seen across all of them is that the IT generalist, aka the full stack engineer, has never been a badge of honor.
In my experience IT professionals typically want to become the Subject Matter Experts (SME). In order to become a SME, you have to study, work and focus on particular technologies. Time is a limited commodity, so by taking this directed approach your ability to become well rounded and exposed to more technologies is restricted right out of the gate. To state it a different way: As you go further down the rabbit hole of specialization, breadth is naturally sacrificed for depth.
This model has worked for IT professionals for years. If I become an expert in a technology that is valuable to my organization/career/community, then I can achieve higher levels of pay/title/prestige. All of these results fire off my reward system and engage my dopamine receptors. But what if these short term rewards run counter to a greater purpose? What if by focusing on one minute area of IT infrastructure, I miss the forest for the trees?
And it’s this world that I think we find ourselves in in 2017. Technology is changing and roles change with it. If a technology like mainframes falls out of favor, and you’ve focused only on this aspect for the last N-years, well what happens next? (I’m just kidding mainframes, we all know that you’ll never die. Please don’t hurt me…). In the world of SDDC, Cloud, serverless, IoT and whatever the next emergent technology is, how do you translate these focused skills into a world that is becoming more diverse and generalized? Playing the scenario out, perhaps it’s the forest we should have been focusing all along. The forest is the business. It’s the goal, not the methods.
And finally we come to the question. And perhaps it’s less or a paradox and more ironic that as developers trend away from Full Stack, that we as IT professionals have to ask ourselves: Is the time of the SME past? Have we entered an age where the generalists, integrators and full-stack engineers have finally come into their own? Where these full stack engineers are the primary engines that enable their organizations to succeed?
I certainly don’t know the answer, but maybe Cracker had it right when they said “I’m sure as hell that it starts with me”
I was at work today and a need came across my desk for a solution that requires SNMP. For some reason which I can’t fathom, SNMP is not installed as a service on the majority of the servers. Who do we turn to in tumultuous times like these? PowerShell and his mighty sidekick PowerCLI!
First things first I wanted to know the scope of what I was dealing with. When I dove into this problem I had every intention of trying to broaden my horizons and move away from PowerCLI, but it’s so easy to get sucked back into what you know. Besides, I knew I was only targeting a couple of clusters, so it only made sense to go back to PowerCLI, right? Right???
If you ignore the ugly formatting, what I did below was load all of the VM’s I needed to target into an object and then iterate through each of them to make sure they were windows machines and that they were powered on. In hindsight I knew that I was probably going to use invoke-vmscript to get the job done, so I probably should have checked for vmTools status (ExtensionData.Guest.ToolsRunningStatus) while I was at it.
So now we’ve got a nice neat little hashtable full of servers that need a little TLC. You’d think that we could immediately get rocking, but without going into details things unexpectedly got a little dodgy at this point. I mentioned earlier that I originally intended to try and break away from PowerCLI just to broaden my horizons. Unfortunately as an Infrastructure person you don’t always have the opportunity to do things the way you’d like, and you have to sacrifice elegance for just getting things done. Luckily as VMware admins when we need to get $hit done, we have a very handy and very powerful tool available to us and that is invoke-vmscript.
If you’ve heard me talk, reviewed my scripts or spent any time around me you’d know that I think invoke-vmscript is the cat’s meow. It is without a doubt my favorite cmdlet as it lets you get away with some pretty awesome stuff. At it’s root, invoke-vmscript allows you to run a script via VMtools within the context of the local VM. Now this is different from PSexec or PowerShell remoting; you are actually running the a script within the local OS where VMtools and PowerCLI are just the mechanisms to enable this super hero activity.
Quick sidebar: With great power comes great responsibility. I said above that invoke-vmscript “lets you get away with some pretty awesome stuff.” Many people in this world just deploy VMtools and vCenter with default permissions and credentials. If you are a security person, you need to ensure that your roles and privileges are setup appropriately, of you could have exposure due to what you can accomplish with VMtools.
But I digress. We are here to get things done and at the center of it this whole exercise boils down to a one liner:
If you refer back to the original snip, we stored all of the servers into an array, which is being iterated through. We invoke the script targeting $client.name. The parameter for ScriptText is where we pass in the script that we would like to run on the remote system. In this case we are using the Microsoft DISM tool to add the SNMP feature to our Windows installation. Lastly is the parameter for ScriptType. You have three ScriptType options available to you as of today: Bat for you old school Windows Cats, Bash for the nix kittens and PowerShell for the up and coming cubs.
When you put it all together, here’s the code to get it done:
I hope for today you’ll excuse the formatting and less than efficient code, as the mission was to get things done. We achieved our mission and escaped certain doom due to our friendly neigboorhood hero Invoke-VMScript. I hope to have a deeper expose into our masked super hero soon, but until then if you have any thoughts or would like to contribute to the conversation, please reach out.
or: How I stopped worrying and learned to love the CLI
I recently gave a Tech Talk at our spring Champlain Valley VMUG on PowerShell and PowerCLI. The talk definitely was more of an introductory instructional, but one of our attendees expressed that they wanted to hear more about the value that can be delivered back to the organization by scripting with PowerShell. Hopefully I can give you a solid overview of the immense value of PowerShell here today.
The only constant is change and that holds true for IT infrastructure folks as well. Terms like DevOps, distruptor, and Shadow IT have become firmly established in our lexicon. And with good reason! We are in a world that is moving faster and faster everyday and you often see where it’s not the best product that corners a market, but rather it’s the first/fastest to market that gets a stranglehold. If you come from a classical IT role with silos and legacy processes/policies that slow your Organization down… well is it any wonder that you have disruptors changing the model?!? But what if there was a way that you could help accelerate your business, work collaboratively with the Developers, combat against Shadow IT and be the disruptor yourself? Powershell can be the tool that enables this transformation by delivering Time and Consistency to your organization.
This one is simple. Time is money and by investing a little bit of effort up front scripting a solution, you will save time moving forward. Here is the no-brainer part of the value prop: Do you want to take on the timely task of building environments by hand? Of course you don’t! You want something that’s fast and easy. There’s a take on the old adage that I’ll paraphrase here “Do it once, ok. Do it twice, shame on me. Do it three times, why haven’t you scripted it yet?”
Let’s suppose for a second that you have to install a widget dozens, hundreds or thousands of times. This activity takes hours. Once you script & automate that install, you turn it into a hands off activity freeing up your engineers to do more of the activities that will drive value instead of just watching the progress bar. Simply by the act of writing that script, you’ve saved your business time/money, and honestly you’ve probably gained a bit of expertise and employee engagement as well. Extrapolate this out to all of the infrastructure elements you need to manage: people, policy, applications, servers, storage, network, security and the list goes on and on. Even if you can only automate part of a process, you’re still going to see dividends.
A less intuitive reason for starting with PowerShell is that it has a pretty quick learning curve, especially if you come from a windows environment. If you have any programming/scripting background you can likely dive right in. This means that your team can be scripting sooner, and can start ensuring that they are driving the non-value added operations out of your day to day. Many infrastructure folks don’t have a background in development activities and as such scripting can be a bit of a hard sell. PowerShell was meant to build upon and extend the foundation of items like Batch and VBscript, but in a way that is intuitive to learn and become efficient with quickly. One of my go to guides for learning PowerShell is the Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches guide. This book is so successful in large part because it demonstrates just how easily accessible PowerShell really is.
I mentioned earlier that you can create collaborative opportunities and combat against Shadow IT. PowerShell is built on top of the .NET framework and has support for RestAPI’s baked in. This means that you can share code, speak the same language and have smoother hand-offs. By using PowerShell you have an opportunity to increase the amount of collaboration between your groups. If you can harness this opportunity you’re likely going suffer from less finger pointing, and be able to cut out some unnecessary meetings.
Time and consistency (and money) go hand in hand in IT. Having inconsistent environments results in more frequent issues and longer times to resolution. When you start scripting out your activities you will have a much more predictable environment, outages will decrease in frequency and your time to resolution will also drop. This all yields in greater up-time. More up-time means happier customers and happier engineers. Your business is winning!
Speaking of winning, do you know why Tom Brady is one of the Greatest Of All Time? It’s not because of his ugg’s or his supermodel wife. It’s because he has put in the work up front to ensure that no matter who he is working with, he will have a predictable and consistent outcome. This is what you should be aiming for with your environment: consistent and predictable.
Having a consistent repeatable infrastructure makes that environment easier to rebuild. If you can kick off a PowerShell script that results in a fresh server in a matter of minutes, why would you spend hours troubleshooting a problem? The saying “treat your servers like cattle, not like pets” became popularized for a reason. Wikipedia states that “The term commodity is specifically used for an economic good or service when the demand for it has no qualitative differentiation across a market.” Your servers SHOULD have no qualitative differences, and are therefore inherently commodities, and replaceable. Diving into PowerShell and PowerCLI can help get you there.
I’ve mentioned it a number of times but some of you may be going, what is this PowerCLI thing? PowerCLI is VMware’s implementation of PowerCLI modules which allow you to “automate all aspects of vSphere management, including network, storage, VM, guest OS and more.” To put it short, it’s a super efficient and reliable (not to mention fun) way to manage your vSphere environments. It’s also incredibly powerful. There are over 500 separate commandlets in the modules which make up PowerCLI. By some accounts VMware has approximately 80% of the hypervisor market, which means the majority of the worlds infrastructure run’s on vSphere and can be managed with PowerCLI.
Using PowerCLI just allows you to further expand on the amount of Time and Consistency that you can deliver back into your business. With PowerCLI you can automate/manage the network, hypervisors, storage and all of the elements that encompass your “infrastructure”. You can also take it one step further and thanks to the security models built into vSphere you can let your users do it too! With a little bit of thought and design, you can give your developers the ability to spin up and spin down their own VM’s. No more test/dev headaches for you and your developers are happier! The winning doesn’t stop!
As I said to start my VMUG presentation, I’m not an expert in PowerShell or PowerCLI, but I have used it very effectively in my day to day. It’s also a topic that I’m passionate about, otherwise you’d never catch me voluntarily speaking in front of 100 people! I’ve also managed to write some fairly complex scripts that have helped my Organizations reach goals. I hope this post helps you understand some of the value PowerShell & PowerCLI scripting. If you’d like to keep the conversation going or if you have any questions I’d love to hear from you.
Talking with someone recently I was reminded of an awesome backcountry adventure and thought it might be fun to compile some old snowboard vids for kicks.
Top 5 run on my life on this first one. I think it snowed about 6 inches just during our hike. Edit by my good friend Conor, please check out his photos.
Right after getting my GoPro I called in a “mental health” day and went on a solo mission. On the first run of the day I ran into a guy in the trees who showed me all kinds of spots at Bolton. It’s a bit long, but what a fun day.
Unfortunately last winter was basically a wash. So this last one is a little bit of a blast back in time as Brady’s gotten much better over the last two years. I expect to be updating this shortly
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Followed by a climb to one of Vermont’s highest peaks with some friends
And *I thought* bookended by one of the greatest football games of all time.
BUT then today, I was honored to find out that I’ve been awarded #vExpert status from VMware.
With all the uncertainty in the world these days I thought that I was going to sit down and hammer out some “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” type proverbs. But perhaps what we (and I really mean me) need these days is little more appreciation and gratitude.
I’m so happy that I got to help the Special Olympics in some meager way. If you’d like to help as well, please visit https://specialolympicsvermont.org/. Despite getting my derriere kicked climbing up Camel’s Hump, I’m appreciative for the friendship that brought me there and the beauty that we experienced. I am happy for the simple joys in life, like rooting on my favorite team and celebrating being an underdog. I’m thankful for my career and the opportunities it’s brought me. And last but almost certainly not least, I am appreciative for my family who’ve supported and encouraged me through all these endeavors.
I hope that you find the same joy and appreciate in those things that matter most to you.